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Women's Soccer Q&A: Brielle Preece

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Redshirt junior Brielle Preece, the starting goalkeeper for the Pepperdine women's soccer team, recently earned the WCC Player of the Week award for her efforts against DePaul and Northwestern. She tells us about her outstanding start of the season and their team's goals for the rest of the season:

Brielle  Preece

Q:  Who influenced you to start playing soccer?

A: My parents put me in soccer to begin with but one person who really inspired me was my coach Dave. When I was really young and playing rec soccer he inspired me and pushed me to be a goalie.

Q: How does it feel, as the starting goalkeeper, to be such an integral part of the team this year?

A: It feels great. It's been a long time coming, personally. The past three years I've been behind a really amazing goalie, Hannah Seabert, but it just makes it even better knowing that I put in three years of hard work leading up to this year and then finally earning the spot.

Q: What were your goals going into this year, knowing you'd be the starting goalkeeper?

A: I don't think that I knew I was going to be the starting goalie because things always change. It was a goal of mine to be a starter but I was also just aiming to be the best player that I can be and to be a leader on this team who can inspire the girls.

Q: How did it feel to win the WCC Player of the Week award?

A: It was honestly kind of shocking. It was not something I ever expected. I remember getting a text message from one of my teammates that said, "Congrats!" and I was really confused because I didn't know what it was for. Winning it was really motivational because it was a testament for all of the hard work that I have put in.

Q: You were leading the WCC in goals-against average. Can you tell us a little bit about your mindset going into each game?

A: My mindset going into each game is to get the job done. I think that the average is an average for our entire defensive line. It's not just me making stops, it's the whole team. I think the mindset is that if everyone does their part, we have a good chance at success.

Q: You had an amazing game against UCLA this past weekend with a career high of nine saves. How did it feel for the Waves to tie the #1-ranked team, UCLA?

A: It was awesome! It was a feeling that all of our hard work has been put into action and is finally showing. Coming off of that win is what really inspired us to really complete the mission on Sunday and defeat UCI. It was a great feeling collectively because I think everyone played outstanding.

Q: How are you feeling about the rest of your season, coming off of last year's WCC conference championship?

A: We're all really excited. I think we have the opportunity to do some really amazing things this season. We're all motivated going into conference to complete each mission by taking each game one at a time.

Q: What are your plans after this year?

A: I'm a redshirt junior so my plan is to come back and play one more season next year. Then after graduation I plan on going to physical therapy school.

Men's Water Polo Q&A: Marko Asic

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Junior attacker Marko Asic of the men's water polo team recently represented the United States in the World University games in Taipei, Taiwan. He shared with us his experience and plans for the new season:

Marko  Asic

Q: You recently played for the U.S. at the World University Games in Taiwan. How did you feel when you found out you were selected to play for the U.S.?

A: It was a little bittersweet because I knew that I wasn't going to be practicing with Pepperdine over the summer. But getting selected as one of 13 players to represent the USA was pretty indescribable.

Q: Can you tell me about your overall experience competing in another country?

A: It was fun! My favorite part about it was seeing how different countries play water polo. Japan is super unorthodox, Russia is very grab and go, and then there's Australia, which plays similar to how we do, but more driving and getting the ball to center.

Q: How did the team dynamic differ from that of the Pepperdine team?

A: We didn't have our first practice until five days before our first game. Then there's a team like Japan who have the same teams that they brought to the World Championships the month before and therefore had a lot of experience playing with one another. We kind of just came in guns blazing.

Q: What were the highlights of competing for the national team in Taiwan?

A: One highlight was being able to play against different countries. Playing in Taiwan was awesome in itself. We were able to play in a few different pools while we were there, but the championship pool had 10,000 seats in it and a huge camera for replays that would zoom in on you during starting lineups which was really cool.

Q: How did you feel about the outcome of the games this summer?

A: We got ninth out of 16, which I was pretty bummed about. We tied Russia in our group and they ended up getting second place in the whole tournament. Then we lost to Italy by only three points to get into the top eight and Italy ended up getting third place overall. We were right there along with everyone. We just had a bad game against Italy because we couldn't finish all the opportunities that presented themselves during the game. I think that if we'd had more practices together and time to prepare we could have seen a better outcome.

Q: How did you feel coming back from Taiwan and jumping straight into water polo season for Pepperdine?

A: It's been a grind this entire summer. I was living at home all summer training with the national team and our schedule included having weights at 5:15 a.m., then practice until 9 a.m., then another practice in the evening from 7 to 9:30 p.m. every day. Honestly, I got really burnt out this summer, but the best part was after it all, I got to come home to my family here at Pepperdine, which is reenergizing.

Q: How do you feel about this college season, especially coming off of last year's GCC championship win?

A: We are currently doing pretty well and I think we were undefeated over the summer as well, so we definitely have a huge target on our backs trying to defend our title.

Q: Do you have goals to play professional water polo after you graduate from Pepperdine?

A: Yes, it's been my dream since I was 10 years old, when I found out that I could play water polo as a job and that's what I've been putting my mind toward. Now, having grown up a little more, I'm wondering if I want to put my life on pause for however many years and possibly have to go back to school again. We'll see where I am after senior year, but as of right now it's definitely an option.

Men's Tennis Update: Dane Esses

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Sophomore Dane Esses of the Pepperdine men's tennis team reflects on the ups and downs of his freshman season and how his teammates made it all worthwhile:


Dane  Esses

 

After a heartbreaking 4-3 loss that ended our season and concluded my freshman year, I was scrambling to figure out how I was going to spend my summer. The way I have always spent my summers and free time has revolved around my tennis schedule.

 

I think I can speak for everyone on the team when I say that losing in the conference finals was a very hard way to end the season. For the vast majority of the season both my teammates and I had some very good stretches on the court. It was crazy to think that after all of the good times and hard work, that one 4-3 decision ultimately determined the fate of our season.

 

As I took time off and spent some time with family I realized some very important things that I wanted to share. Firstly, I realized that the concept of acceptance and the ability to accept both the good and tough times is crucial in order to live a fulfilling life. Even though our season ended in a way I didn't expect, I personally could not have asked for a better first year at Pepperdine.

 

The focal point of that statement comes from my teammates and coaches. Through thick and thin, I truly would not pick any other combination of 12 guys to spend my first year with. Whether we won an epic dual match or lost a heart-breaking 4-3 match, that never determined how much we believed in each other or how much we supported each other. When you have teammates that are there to pick you up during the toughest of times, playing for Pepperdine is such a privilege.

 

I can recall a time that I lost a clinching match to lose a dual match 4-3, and the great amount of sadness that I felt. I can remember, though, in the van on our way back my teammates telling me how proud they were and that they had no doubts I would bounce back and still have a great season. That kind of brotherhood and friendship makes it easy to play with such passion and energy that the Pepperdine culture is known for.

 

When I reflect on these memories, it makes it easier to accept how our season ended and to move on and be stronger next year. In life, we can always say, 'I wish I would have done this, or I should have done that,' but the matter of fact is that we have to accept our situations and put our best foot forward. We can always wish we did things differently, but we must also appreciate and cherish the good times that we have. If we only think about what we should have done differently, we will never feel accomplished or have peace with ourselves. That applies to tennis and also life in general.

 

Overall, I realized this summer how much I missed my teammates and playing for Pepperdine. With a new mindset and sense of appreciation for all of the good memories that Pepperdine brought me during my first year, I'm more ready than ever to step on court with my teammates and work together towards achieving our goals.

David Wieczorek, a junior outside hitter on the men's volleyball team, played for the U.S. National Team this summer. He shared what this opportunity meant to him and his goals for the upcoming season:

David  Wieczorek

Q: This summer you had to opportunity to play for the U.S. National Team! What was the process of getting invited and making the team like?

A: The process was really just an email from the assistant coach. The email came toward the end of the season and they were pretty interested. I think it speaks to how you play during the season and how your name gets out. They are looking at who is doing what in the college season. Matt Fuerbringer emailed me and we had a good dialogue going. Then I got the invite.

Q: Was playing for the national team something you had always wanted to do?

A: It was definitely the ultimate goal. It has been my dream ever since I was a little kid to do it. Probably since I was three years old, I always wanted to play for the National Team. Hopefully I can continue to do it.

Q: While you were playing on the team, where did you get to travel to and what did you do there?

A: We were mainly practicing in Anaheim the whole summer and the majority of the team got to travel all over. Since I was the second-youngest guy in the gym, I stayed in Anaheim training. When I got to travel, I went to Canada and got to play in the Pan American Games, which was awesome.

Q: How does playing for the national team compare to playing for Pepperdine?

A: Pepperdine prepared me pretty well because Marv (Dunphy), Dave (Hunt), and (Sean) Rooney have all had experience with the national team. Rooney has a gold medal playing for the team, Marv has a gold medal coaching and Dave has been with the women's team forever. You can see the resemblance between training at Pepperdine and training for the national team. Things are pretty similar like the standards set, the technique and form. The only difference is not playing with people who get recruited to your school. They are from all over.

Q: What was it like being teammates with players that you have been playing against in the past?

A: The first week it was kind of weird getting used to. I played against these people for two years, so when I went up against them I thought, "Oh I don't really like that guy." After being there, they are probably some of the best friends I had. They are really good guys. Even the guys who I was competing with for spots were really good guys and good friends. There were some really cool bonds created.

Q: While in the Pan American Cup, you played against a former Pepperdine alum in Maurice Torres, who plays for Puerto Rico. Did you get the chance to talk with him while you were there?

A: I actually ran into him in the elevator at our hotel and we talked the last night. He was so genuine and really nice. You could tell he was a Wave. He played really well during the tournament. His level was above and beyond a lot of the players there and it was really cool to see.

Q: How will this experience affect you moving forward in your volleyball career?

A: I think the opportunity to be at the USA gym was incredible and a dream come true. I want to definitely go back and hopefully I will get the invite. Things went really well this summer. Getting in those reps over the four months this summer did wonders for my game. Every aspect of my game improved and I am excited to see that come out in this gym. It has given me a lot of confidence being able to play at that level with those guys and compete and realize that I belong there, and in certain instances I can beat them. It has been good for my own mental confidence.

Q: What was your favorite part of being a part of the national team?

A: There were two things. The experience of getting to play with and represent the U.S, while also working with some of the best coaches was amazing. Also, getting to know the guys that I would normally play against and becoming good friends with them. It was like a family in a way. We were training for four months and got to play. It was incredible to be able to play and enhance my game while also creating great relationships and realizing these guys are awesome.

Q: You also had a switch of coaches over this summer. What are your thoughts on Marv Dunphy retiring and David Hunt being named head coach?

A: First and foremost, Marv is awesome. He is still around, and I have a class with him, so I get to see him often. I know that he will still be helping us. I am really sad that he is retiring because he was the one who recruited me and is a big part of my life. I understand that when it is time, it's time. On the flipside, I am really excited for Dave. I have talked to him and I am excited for the season. He is so good at what he does and he puts a lot of work into everything he does, and he has helped my game so much since I have been here.

Q: What are your personal and team goals for this season?

A: My personal goal is to keep continuing to get better and improve my game. Another goal would be to continue playing with the national team and train with them and hopefully one day make it on an Olympic team. I think the goal for me is to continue to improve and think about how I can make our team better by enhancing my skills to help us win. The team goal is the NCAA championship. We have a new coach, which is awesome. He is going to do great and he already is doing great. Everyone's goal is to keep getting better over these next couple of months and be the team we want to be in May when the National Championships come around.

Meagan Harbison, a fifth-year senior on the Pepperdine women's soccer team, looks back on her time on the team and also shares her goals for this season:

Meagan  Harbison

Q: Tell me a little about winning the WCC title this past season.

A: That was really big for us. I think coming off a year before that was not that great, we came out strong, mainly defensively. We have a strong back line, but also as a unit we were strong too. It was not necessarily the way we wanted to win it because we had a chance to win it at home, but ultimately the game that we played to win it was all about heart. That moment after we scored, we knew we had won and everyone stormed the field. It was a really cool experience.

Q: How has that affected the team coming into this season? What is the team doing to retain the title this season?

A: I think coming off a good season last year and having a lot of returners from that group coming back has set a good foundation. I think we will just continue to build off of that. We know that we can achieve it, and now we just have to stick with it and keep on improving each day.

Q: You and your sister, Hailey, are playing together for the first time since 2014. Are you both excited to be playing together again?

A: It's crazy. I got injured and then a year later, Hailey got injured. It is cool to be back together. She is such a good player and we can read off each other. We have a good partnership.

Q: What is it like having your sister on the team?

A: I think it is really cool. Obviously I am older, so I got to do my own thing my first year. It is fun having a sister around because you are with them growing up and it is great to have that support system and someone to hang out with. I can depend on her no matter what.

Q: As a team captain, what's your role on the team?

A: I am the oldest one on the team and I have a lot of experience, so I just have to use that to help my teammates. I am more of a lead-by-example type of player, so hopefully going forward I can lead in other ways too.

Q: What are you looking to get out of this season?

A: I want to win it all. I want to win the WCC title again and go farther in the tournament, but ultimately, I want the championship. I think we can do that this year because we have the team for it. As long as we keep our minds set and focused, we can achieve it. As long as we believe it, I think we can do it.

Q: Looking back on your time at Pepperdine, what has stood out the most or had the most impact on you?

A: The people here, especially my teammates. My class has graduated now, but they were a big reason why I stayed here. The culture of the team is great. No matter what you are going to work hard because you have to have your teammates' backs and they have your back. Regardless of that bad day you are going through, you know you can depend on them. You know that there is someone for you and everyone is rooting for you.

Q: If you could go back to when you first started at Pepperdine, what advice would you give yourself?

A: For soccer I would say to try and find more time to practice little things. I know it's hard because the schedule is crazy, but I would tell myself to get up a little earlier and find some time to practice more on my own.

Q: What is your favorite memory with the team?

A: There are so many. The WCC win was for sure a favorite. My sophomore year we beat USC twice, once at their home field and once here. It was really cool to beat them back to back. There were just so many big wins, it is crazy. Nothing is better than winning away.

Q: Since this will be your last year here at Pepperdine, what are you plans after you graduate?

A: I definitely want to play soccer whenever I can at this point. I am hoping that I can do that. If not, I still want to stay in the sports industry because that (sport administration) is my major.

Women's Volleyball Update: Hannah Frohling

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Sophomore outside hitter Hannah Frohling writes in with this update after the team's first couple of home matches, and ahead of this weekend's Asics Classic where the Waves will play three home matches on Friday and Saturday:

Hannah  Frohling

This past weekend, we finally got to compete in our home gym in front of our fans and it was so incredible.  We have been training hard in Firestone Fieldhouse since January in preparation for this season, but it always feels so good when we get to put the jerseys on and play for our school.

At the end of last season, we knew we had a special group going into the off season and the addition of our freshmen and a transfer, who have flawlessly integrated into Pepperdine volleyball, has really accelerated our growth. We've been here at Pepperdine training since July, putting in work in the weight room, getting touches on the ball in the gym and spending time together as a team and growing closer to one another. I can't say enough how special this group of 16 is and how much fun it is to come to practice every day and battle it out. With all that being said, we were so ready to compete at our first home game.

Our first home match was against Northeastern and with the fans behind us, we pulled out a 3-1 win. The whole team was on the same page and the game felt smooth, just like we've been practicing. It's awesome to play with people who you've been training so hard with and get the results that you've been working towards. We had a quick turnaround and played CSUN the next day at their gym. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get the win there, but the next day we were able to redeem ourselves against Weber State with a 3-0 win. 

Being a sophomore, I knew what to expect a game day to feel like, but there was something so unique about getting to step back on the court after so many months without a match. We were all able to walk in with such confidence that the work we had been putting in would show in how we played, and it did. The chemistry of our team now is so amazing.  Each girl is contributing to our team on and off the court and pushing everyone else to be better volleyball players, and better people. I am so stoked on this group and truly believe that we are going to do great things.

Another thing that is so neat on our team is that we call ourselves a family.  We are the Pepperdine volleyball family, which means we are always there for each other to build one another up, and also that we can be accountable for others and make sure each person is fulfilling their potential.  We don't back down from fighting for our family, and we are sure to encourage, listen and support each other when it is needed.

Overall, we have had such an awesome first weekend at home that was filled with some gnarly plays, lots of learning moments, going beyond limits and growth together. I am so ready to keep fighting with my team this week, and all the coming weeks. We are mighty, and we are Pepperdine volleyball.

Women's Basketball Q&A: Keyari Sleezer

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Junior guard Keyari Sleezer of the Pepperdine women's basketball team studied abroad in Spain this summer. She tells us about her experience studying abroad while maintaining her readiness for the upcoming season:

Keyari  Sleezer

Q: You went to study abroad in Spain. Can you tell me about your experience?

A: It was amazing! I really loved getting to travel and meet so many more people outside of athletics. It was a great time to get to really learn about navigating the city in Spanish and on my own. Since I am already an independent person, I chose to room alone with my family and I took the metro everywhere. I really loved being right in the city and getting to explore a little bit of everything in the parks, cafes, and museums.

Q: Who or what influenced you to go abroad?

A: The opportunity to study Spanish and finish out my Hispanic Studies minor, while getting to fulfill my passion for traveling, were huge motivating factors for my decision. I also want to be bilingual for my future career in the medical field and to better communicate with my family in Costa Rica.

Q: What was your most memorable experience?

A: The side trips were where I made some of the best memories! My favorite weekend was a last-minute trip to Morocco for the last weekend that we were there. We got to explore on a camel ride, horse carriage, walking and a tour up to a waterfall in the mountains. Plus, everything was just very cultural and distinct and we had a really unique experience getting to be there during Ramadan.

Q: What was something you learned about the culture difference?

A: The two main things were the schedule and the aging. They eat a big, late lunch, so that meant that we didn't have dinner until around 10 o'clock at night! It was hard on my sleep schedule, but it also gave me more time to be out and take advantage of the daylight, because it didn't get dark until around 10. The other thing that was very different was that people marry a lot later, so this meant that I had older host brothers who still lived at home, which was normal to them and I saw a lot of old mothers around the city.

Q: What do you miss the most from Spain?

A: I miss getting to live with a family. Going from dorms to a full family was so much fun! I had host brothers that I could hang out with, I had my own room, we had family dinners, and they didn't speak English, so I got to practice my Spanish and feel comfortable doing it.

Q: Would you recommend other student-athletes to go abroad if their schedule permits?

A: Yes! If you are motivated and able to manage your priorities, then this is the best possible time and opportunity to take advantage of. Getting to get credit, meet peers, travel, and just experience a different culture is invaluable.

Q: Were you able to play any basketball there?

A: Yes. I wanted to make sure that I came back ready to contribute and be completely involved in the workouts, so I was a member of a gym and even found a group through an app called "meetup" where I could play pickup games with some Americans in the area. I couldn't find an indoor court, but I carried my ball and pump around all the time, so that I could explore the city and find outdoor courts or just play at the one right next to my house.

Q: How are you prepping for this upcoming season?

A: I have been preparing for this season by working on my dribbling and maintaining my shot. The easiest thing to do, anywhere, is to just go for a run, so I pride myself in the endurance that I have built up.

Q: What are you most looking forward to for your junior year?

A: For junior year I am looking forward to seeing what comes of all the changes we have made. I truly think there are many positive things to come in the way we have fostered our love for the game, our team practices and our winning culture. I can't wait to see where that takes us!

Women's Basketball Q&A: Paige Fecske

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Paige Fecske, a rising junior on the women's basketball team, won a gold medal with the United States at the 2017 Maccabiah Games in Israel. She talks to us about her experience and emotions at the Maccabiah Games as well as her plans for what's left of the summer:

Paige  Fecske

Q: You recently won a gold medal with the U.S. at the 2017 Maccabiah Games. Can you tell us about your experience?

A: Well, it was my first time leaving the country all by myself, so it was quite nerve-wracking in the beginning. But it was amazing getting to explore Israel with people who I hadn't really met before, while having the opportunity to play basketball. It was awesome getting to play with someone who we played against last season, Drew Edelman from UCSB. She is a stud post player.

Q: Was it your first time playing in the Maccabiah Games?

A: This was the first time I had heard about the Maccabiah Games, so yes!

Q: Since it was your first time going to Israel, what was that like for you personally and what did it mean to your family for you to travel and play there?

A: It was an adventure for sure and going by myself gave me a chance to grow as an individual. I was the only one who went without any family so I was able to give myself fully to basketball and to meeting new people. My grandmother was very excited for me to go because she had never been to Israel before. Overall, it was very special for me to go to Israel and I am so glad I went, even though I was very nervous going alone.

Q: What were some of your emotions while you were playing and after you won gold medal?

A: During the game my emotions were pretty relaxed until the end when we started to gain a lead against Israel. I was crazy stoked! The best part of the game was going up for a chest bump with my teammate Emily. I basically got body slammed down to the ground but everyone got a good laugh during the game, which lightened the mood!

Q: What was the most memorable part of your trip?

A: The most memorable part of my trip was honestly just any time I got to spend with my new lifelong friends who I am lucky to now have! But if I had to pick one thing it would be the day we went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Israel, and I read off the name of a Hungarian boxer who was killed, in honor of my grandmother who is still alive and a survivor of the Holocaust from Hungary. Also, I blogged every single day while I was there and it was awesome to get people's feedback throughout my journey. My friend Lauren Rothfeld and I would have journal time every day.

Q: What was the most important thing you learned that you can use to help you in your future basketball endeavors?

A: I learned the importance of knowing each person on your team individually. Everyone is different and needs something that another person may not need from their point guard.

Q: Is playing internationally different than playing in the U.S.?

A: Yes very different. They don't call fouls. And the key is much wider in Israel than in the U.S. But besides that, basketball is basketball.

Q: What are your plans for the rest of the summer?

A: For the rest of the summer I am going to continue to work on my game while spending time with my family in New York for a few weeks.

Q: What are you working to improve on for this upcoming season?

A: I am working on my dribbling, shooting, passing and communication skills.

Q: What are you most excited about for your junior year?

A: I am most excited for our new coach, DeLisha Milton-Jones. She has so much experience and wisdom to share with us and I cannot wait to get back to work with everyone in the fall.

Q: What should fans expect for this upcoming season?

A: The fans will get to see how the program has grown and players have developed together as a team and individually. It will be a great season.

Women's Volleyball Q&A: Heidi Dyer

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Indoor and beach volleyball student-athlete Heidi Dyer has had a busy summer with not only volleyball training but also recently going on a mission trip to Tanzania. She shares with us her goals for the upcoming season and her experience on her mission trip:

Heidi  Dyer

Q: Besides keeping busy with volleyball, I know you just got back from a mission trip to Tanzania. Can you share with me what that was like?

A: Going to Tanzania was so incredible and eye-opening. I've been to Kenya before and I really wanted to go back to Africa this year. On New Year's Day I asked God to somehow send me to Africa this year, even though I only had a couple weeks throughout the entire year that I wasn't required to be at school playing volleyball. Sure enough, God provided me with a trip through my youth group, University Ministries at Malibu Presbyterian, at the exact perfect time. The second the trip was proposed I knew I was supposed to go on it. I didn't have enough money or enough time to really prepare for the trip, but I trusted that God would provide and He did. We went to an orphanage called Light in Africa, which is run by Mama Lynn. Meeting her felt like how I would imagine meeting Mother Teresa would feel like. She's amazing. Read her book, it's called Light in Africa!

Q: What kind of things did you do there?

A: When I was there, I mostly got to just love on little kids. At first, I didn't realize how incredibly impactful and important that would be, but I was blown away by how content they were just to hold your hand. They are so love deprived that it breaks my heart. They don't have parents taking care of them, let alone loving them and giving them the special attention they deserve. They are well taken care of and it's in a loving way, but they hardly ever get special attention. My heart was SO full just being able to give them that love. I never had a time without a child in my arms or five kids holding on to separate fingers. My team also went to a Masai village and it opened my eyes to one of the most poverty-stricken people groups. I washed parasites out of kids' hair for an entire day and didn't even get through half of the kids that needed it. The problems in that community are endless. 

Q: What did you learn from this opportunity?

A: I learned so much on this trip and my eyes were opened so wide to the insane needs of these people. The biggest thing I got out of it was a bigger spiritual heart to love God's people. I loved so much it hurt sometimes, but I figure that's the best way to love. That was the most rewarding part. 

Q: Would you encourage other students to go on a similar mission trip, and why?

A: I would 110% encourage anyone who has an opportunity to go serve in a third world country to do it! These kinds of trips are something that teach you more about yourself than you could ever learn at home. It opens your eyes and it changes you and challenges you in incredible ways. 

Q: Who or what inspires you to go on mission trips?

A: Going on mission trips is something that God calls you to do. He'll either put the desire in your heart to find a way to go, or He'll tell you to go and then present you with an opportunity. So God is definitely the one who inspires me to go on missions trips. But I'm telling you, once you do, you won't want to stop. It's an amazing feeling to be living for something other than yourself. 

Q: With one more month of summer, can you tell us what you have been doing on the court during this off season?

A: This summer our team went to Europe, which was the coolest trip ever! But along with that, we played six matches against some good competition and that really helped us bond as a team. I also beat up on my 14-year-old brother's indoor team in June because their coach needed more players. I'm kidding, they totally hit the ball as hard as college girls ... it's scary. This July our team has reconvened on campus and has been getting lots of reps in during the open gyms, which has been a lot of fun. 

Q: How is the training in the summer different than in season?

A: Summer training is different because there isn't the pressure of having to compete as flawlessly as possible. It's all about the imperfections and striving to perfect them. Although, of course we know perfection isn't impossible but it's definitely a good goal to shoot for. 

Q: What are you most excited about for your junior year?

A: I am most excited to compete for a WCC championship title. Our team is sold out for achieving it. It feels different this year. A very good different. 

Q: Do you have personal goals that you hope to achieve for this upcoming season?

A: My personal goal is just to help the team in any way possible. I might be playing a couple different positions so my goal is to just be ready for whatever the team needs. Obviously I would like to beat my personal stats from previous years but my biggest goal is the team's end result.

Men's Basketball Q&A: Nolan Taylor

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Rising sophomore Nolan Taylor of men's basketball recently took part in the WCC Leadership Summit recently hosted by Pepperdine. After the strong presentations, healthy discussion and debate, he shares with us his experience at the conference and reflects on his freshman year results that will help him for this upcoming season:

Nolan  Taylor

Q: Besides keeping busy with basketball, you recently took part in the WCC Leadership Summit at Pepperdine. What was that like?

A: The leadership summit was a great experience. As a conference we got to come together and create a family atmosphere. It was unique because I was building special bonds and relationships with people that I will be competing against. This summit was important because life is much bigger than bouncing a ball or competing in your respective sport. Life is about changing the world we live in for the betterment of those around us and creating lifelong healthy relationships.

Q: What kind of things did you do at the summit?

A: During the summit we had sessions where we would have JT Thoms from Growing Leaders and Timothy Alexander from UAB, teach us leadership techniques and different ways that we can not only make our team and program better, but mainly how we can impact the lives of many people by being what you want to see and stepping out of our comfort zones. This means making our teammates' problems and universities' problems, our personal problems. Why not conquer and find solutions together? We also did a community service activity where we picked up trash at the beach. In addition, we got the opportunity to personally ask questions to the commissioner of the WCC, which was an eye-opening experience.

Q: What was the most important thing you learned from the summit?

A: There were so many things that I learned, so I cannot pick a favorite. However, there was a question that made me do a lot of self-reflection. The question was, "What are you doing with your influence?" As athletes we are blessed with God-given talents and we are given an elevated platform. It is essential for us to realize that this platform is not about our title, it is about our influence and what we do to add value to the places life takes us. I learned that although basketball has developed me into the man I am today, I want my impact to outline my life, so that I am known for more than solely basketball.

Q: What was the most memorable part of the summit?

A: The most memorable part was listening to Timothy Alexander talk about his life that was full of adversity. From a wheelchair, he gathered a group to fight and bring back the UAB football team, rowing team and rifling team. He was just a complete inspiration to listen to and it was unbelievably astonishing to see what he made out of the many difficult circumstances life threw at him. 

Q: Now back to basketball, you had quite an impressive freshman year. Can you tell us what it was like playing in 24 of 31 games and starting 20 games your freshman year? Did you expect to play and start in that many games?

A: The season was full of struggles. As a team we were in a constant battle with injuries, which made it very difficult to stay positive at times. Personally, I did not know what to expect when I came back after missing a few games, but Coach Wilson trusted in my process of recovering and getting into game shape. However, my main goal was to help the team in any way that I could. Some games it was rebounding, sometimes it was guarding a dominant big in our league and other games I needed to score. It was a blessing to get that experience leading into this upcoming year.

Q: What was the most important thing you learned from your freshman year that you will use for next season?

A: The most important thing I learned this season was to find the good in every situation and season of life both on and off the court. I am honestly thankful for last season because it helped me continue to positively build my character and also forced me to battle through adversity. I truly realized the importance of having a mindset of perseverance and gratefulness. 

Q: Do you have personal goals that you hope to achieve for this upcoming season?

A: My primary goal is to be able to be a more versatile defender. I want to be able to guard all positions. I also want to be a more dominant scorer while shooting a higher percentage from the rest of the field than last year.

Q: What can fans expect this season?

A: Fans can expect the most athletic Pepperdine team in a long time. We will be a very high-energy team that is hungry and ready to win the conference championship.

Q: What are you working on this summer to prepare for this upcoming season?

A: This summer I have been working on having quicker feet, getting faster and more athletic. I have also been working on my shot and ball-handling every day.

Men's Basketball Q&A: Amadi Udenyi

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Amadi Udenyi will enter his fifth year as a Wave after receiving a medical redshirt last season. He talks to us about what his recovery process was like and his goals for his final season:

Amadi  Udenyi

Q: You have plans to come back for a fifth year. What influenced you to make that decision?

A: I think the biggest influence on my decision was that I didn't want to look back 10 years from now and say I quit on myself. And I also didn't want to end my college career with an injury.

Q: It will be your final year as a Wave. What does that mean to you? How has this program and the game of basketball itself affected you as a person?

A: My final year as a Wave definitely means I'm old! But I've cherished every moment of being at Pepperdine. This program has made me a better man and has given me the platform to be very successful in life after basketball.

Q: How are the team dynamics this year? Have you met any of the incoming freshmen?

A: The team dynamic is great this year but I feel like every team I've been on at Pepperdine has had great chemistry and the coaches do a great job at making sure we are a family, not just a basketball team. And yes, I met all the freshman this past month, and I can't wait to get the season started with them.

Q: Over the past four years, what have you learned by being a part of this team that you will apply to your final season?

A: The number one thing that I've learned over my past four seasons would be to give it your absolute all at every practice and game because you never know when it will end. I was blessed to receive a fifth year but if my career would've ended last year with that injury, I would've been devastated because I knew I had so much more to give to my team.

Q: Who or what inspires you to compete?

A: My mom inspires me to compete every day! She works so hard for my brothers and I and shows unconditional love. At the very least I know I can compete for her every time I step on the court.

Q: What was your initial reaction when you ruptured your Achilles tendon for the second time?

A: My initial reaction was I couldn't believe it happened again. But later that day I asked the trainer when was the earliest day I could get surgery and start rehab because I knew I wasn't going to let this injury end my college career.

Q: What was the rehabilitation process like?

A: Since it was my second time doing the rehab process it went smoothly.

Q: Was it mentally difficult to stay positive about recovering from such an incident?

A: It wasn't mentally difficult at all because I have strong faith and belief in God's plan and this is just part of it.

Q: At what level do you expect to play this season?

A: I expect to play at the highest level. I won't use this injury as an excuse at all.

Q: What is your schedule/plan like for the summer both on and off the court?

A: This summer my plan is to get in the best shape possible and be ready for my last season at Pepperdine. Off the court I intend to learn more about the game of basketball because I plan to coach my own team one day.

Q: How is training in the summer different than in season?

A: Summer training is extremely different compared to in season because during the season there are so many games that sometimes it gets hard to work on your game. To get better you have to stay in the training room just to keep your body healthy enough to get through the season. The summer is when you can work on all your weaknesses and get your body in shape to prepare for a great season.

Q: What kind of things are you working on with your weight training coach and your head coach?

A: With Coach Young I'm working on strengthening my lower body and just becoming more explosive overall. Because I am a fifth year, I am working with Coach Wilson to learn to be an overall leader. I know everyone on the team will follow my lead, especially the freshmen, so I have to make sure I am a great example for the rest of the team on and off the court.

Q: What are your goals coming into your final season?

A: Because it is my last season at Pepperdine, my number one goal is to win the WCC and make the tournament. All the other individual accolades will come for everyone on the team if we take care of the two major team goals.

Women's Tennis Q&A: Ashley Lahey

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2017 WCC Freshman of the Year and rising sophomore Ashley Lahey won her first USTA Pro Circuit event earlier this summer in Sumter, S.C. She talks to us about her experience and her goals for the future:
Ashley  Lahey

Q: You just won your first USTA Pro Circuit event. Was this your first professional event?

A: I played a few professional events last summer, but I haven't played in very many. The Sumter tennis tournament in the ITF Women's Circuit was the first tournament of the year for me so I didn't really have any expectations going in.

Q: Talk us through your experience and the atmosphere at the professional level compared to college.

A: Like any sport, the beginning level professional circuit is not nearly as glorious as the big leagues. The atmosphere itself was nothing special or exciting as there were not too many fans. I did meet an incredible family with some cute kids who became my fan club for the week and it was super fun having them cheer me on and come running to hug me after my matches. Many of the players in the tournament were college players. Mixed in were some top juniors and rising professionals. The competition was incredible. I couldn't believe how hard I had to fight for every match.

Q: How does your age impact your play? Do you feel like being a young sophomore helps you on the court or can be difficult to overcome at times?

A: For me, the biggest positive of being young is realizing that I have a lot of time to really develop my game. Therefore I can focus on the process of improving and don't have to stress about results as much as older players. Having said that, I still do put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed. One tough part of being young is not having as much experience as some of the older players.

Q: What did you learn from the experience?

A: To me the tournament served as a step in the right direction. It told me that my efforts are paying off and if I continue to improve, I have a shot at making it one day. I also learned how important acting professionally, such as eating the right meals, sleeping the right amount and practicing at the right times, is to succeeding. It's going to be a really tough journey, but one I'm excited to take on.

Q: What were your emotions after winning?

A: I was really excited. As I said, it's a step in the right direction and it's fun to see hard work pay off.

Q: What are your next tournaments for the summer?

A: I actually earned a few wildcards into some 60k tournaments, which are a much higher level. I am excited to be able to compete against some very successful players.

Q: What are you learning in the summer tournaments that you will bring onto the court come the fall and spring?

A: I am learning how to win matches with strategy versus physical strength or fitness. I am becoming more well-rounded and also learning how to hold my nerves and play my best game under a lot of pressure.

Q: When did you start playing and who introduced you to tennis?

A: I started playing with my mom when I was about four years old.

Q: What goals do you want to accomplish in the next three years?

A: In the next three years I definitely hope to crack the ranking of top 100 players, though I know that will be very difficult, especially considering that I will be balancing my college education with my athletics!

Men's Volleyball Q&A: Weston Barnes

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Redshirt senior Weston Barnes recently took a trip to the NCAA Headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana, to take part in the NCAA Career in Sports Forum, a leadership development conference for student-athletes looking to continue a career in sports. Weston is a returning member of the Waves Leadership Council:


Weston  Barnes

Q: What was the primary focus of the NCAA Career in Sports Forum?


A: The forum was designed to allow student-athletes to explore career paths within intercollegiate athletics and connect with a variety of different leaders in the industry of college sports. Another purpose of the forum was to develop leadership traits and build connections with peers and mentors.


Q: Who all was selected to go?


A: There were 240 student-athletes from all over the country, covering all three NCAA divisions. It was a great mix of student-athletes from every sport. Being the only Pepperdine representative, people would identify me by my school and say something like, "Yo Pepperdine, what up?!"


Q: Did you meet a lot of people from different schools in similar stages of life?


A: I found it very easy to connect with people because we all held the same mindset. It seemed like 90 percent of the student-athletes at the forum had either just graduated or were within a year of graduating. Most of us will be facing some big career decisions soon, and I think all of us are striving to establish a career in athletics. A common theme amongst us is that we share a passion for improving the life of student-athletes, and that really brought us together. I connected with some really cool people who were driven in the same direction as me, and getting to bond with these people made the trip extremely fulfilling.


Q: What was your biggest take-away from the forum?


A: I took in more from the leadership development seminars and activities than anything. I learned what it means to have a purpose and how to identify that purpose. Furthermore, I learned to use my purpose to build a personal brand and convey my brand in a proper manner. Ultimately my favorite learning experience was a personality assessment that I engaged in with the other student-athletes. I discovered my personality type to be Conscientious, which tends to be analytical and systematic. Then they put us in groups typed by personality. It was mind blowing to see the similarities among us. We discussed ways to understand and improve interaction among the different personalities in a group setting. Having the assessment at our fingertips improved communication among student-athletes for the rest of the weekend. I gained a lot from the personality assessment.


Q: Do you have any fun memories of outside activities?


A:  Picture this, 100-plus student athletes all in the same restaurant to watch game one of the NBA Finals. The place was on fire because of a heated rivalry of Warriors and Cavs fans that continued throughout the whole weekend. You could literally eavesdrop on conversations of people arguing about whether LeBron is the greatest player of all time ... I mean, come on, I thought we were all college educated here.


Q: How did it feel to be nominated to attend the conference by Senior Associate Director of Athletics Karina Herold?


A: I was thrilled when Karina said she would nominate me. I had only been a WLC member for one year so I thought my chances of being selected were slim, but, I asked James Gehrels to review my application. He and I made sure my application was on point, and I think that really helped my chances. Once I received word that I was accepted, I was so fired up for the trip and I don't think that excitement died until I left Indy. With 240 student-athletes around, the energy was high at all times.

Women's Basketball Q&A: Hayley Duren

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Rising sophomore Hayley Duren talks about her season-ending injury that occurred before the start of her freshman year and how she has recovered. She also shares with us her personal goals for this upcoming season and the team dynamics:

Hayley  Duren

Q: You weren't able to play during your freshman year, can you talk about that experience and what it was like for you?

A: It was hard not playing my freshman year, especially with my injury being so close to the start of season. It was especially the hardest when we started conference games because I wished I was in the game battling with our team to win.

Q: Was it your first injury in your basketball career?

A: This was my first major injury that required surgery.

Q: Was it mentally difficult to stay positive during your recovery?

A: My teammates and coaches helped keep me involved and not let me get down. When it got difficult, I was constantly reminded to look back at how far I've come and see the good in this process.

Q: Who or what motivated you the most during your recovery process?

A: My teammates and coaches have motivated me throughout this process to stay focused and to improve my muscle strength, mobility and overall skill set. I just can't wait to get back on the court again. Basketball is my passion and I miss it.

Q: Was there any specific person that really helped you as you worked through that last year?

A: My mom flew out from Florida and was there for me right out of surgery and spent two weeks out here taking care of me. Coach DeLisha played a huge role in my recovery process. She was always the person I went to for guidance. She is phenomenal at what she does and I couldn't have asked for a better mentor and coach.

Q: What are you looking forward to the most once you are finally able to get back out there and compete next season?

A: I am looking forward to competing with our team. Especially competing playing against Gonzaga, LMU, BYU and Pacific. We are capable of upsetting teams this season and I can't wait to be a part of it.

Q: Do you have personal goals that you hope to achieve for this upcoming season?

A: Personally I want to make an impact on both ends of the floor and have aspirations to be on the All-Freshman team.

Q: With the Waves adding six more members to the team next year, have you gotten to meet any of them yet?

A: Yes, we have two incoming seniors who are going to bring leadership to our young team and we also have two of the four freshmen on campus right now. All six new members will be great additions to our team and will have a positive impact on our play this season.

Q: What has the summer routine been like for you?

A: Summer workouts have been great, they're competitive and upbeat. We're having fun while working hard and bringing positive energy each day. The season isn't until November, but we're training like "November is Now" as Coach DeLisha says it best.

Q: How does having most of your teammates around in the summer help with the bonding?

A: We have more free time because we are only taking one class, so outside of basketball and workouts we have the luxury to hang out and go out as a team. We've also volunteered to swim with disabled kids.

Women's Basketball Q&A: Kim Jacobs

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Kim Jacobs is the only returning senior on the Pepperdine women's basketball team. As her final year is approaching, she shares her plans for the summer and her goals for the future:

Kim  Jacobs

Q: What are your plans for the summer both on and off the court?

A: Off the court, I have already had an exciting summer. Since June and July are the months to be here with the team working out and taking summer school, May and August are the two months for more off-the-court activities. In May, I went to South Carolina to visit my mom who just recently moved there, went to Disneyland, went to the beach a few times and went to a couple concerts. In August I don't have any major plans, just some babysitting, coaching and hanging out with friends. On the court, I plan to just continue working hard and improving my game. I want to be stronger and in the best shape as any of my previous years since it is my last go-round. If I can accomplish this, I believe it will help my overall game. I also want to improve my shooting. Since I like to think that's what I do best, I want to be able to come into games doing that at my highest potential, and know exactly what I need to do to help the team be successful this year.

Q: What are your summer workouts like?

A: Summer workouts are very intense and exciting with Coach DeLisha. Not only on the court but off the court, we are working extremely hard to be the best team we can possibly be. We have limited time on the court during the summer, but Coach D makes sure we use every minute to the fullest and doesn't waste any time. We work a lot on ball handling and shooting. The drills she has us working on, and the energy and intensity she brings to workouts every day, really allow us to come out of our shell and be more confident in every part of our game. This makes it really challenging, but it is also very fun and rewarding, because I can personally say that I have seen a drastic improvement in just the few weeks we have been here.

Q: What are you most excited about for your senior year?

A: For my senior year, I am excited to see myself grow as a person not only on the court but off the court as well. I am very excited to see how this season turns out because it is all very new to us with all of the adjustments being made, but I think it will be a great year for us. Off the court, I am just excited to get ready to start a new chapter in my life and see where Pepperdine takes me after I graduate. It is the last year that I will ever be a student-athlete, so I am excited to live this last year to my fullest both on and off the court.

Q: What are you looking to get out of your senior year? In general and in basketball?

A: Basketball-wise, I hope to be able to say that I gave it my all and be able to look back on this year specifically and be happy about everything that happened. I just want to have no regrets because like I said, it is my last year being a student-athlete and I will never get these years back. In general, I have the same kind of hopes. And I am happy about how everything turned out. I am looking to take my last major classes and graduate on time with good grades. I am just looking to get the best experience as possible out of my final year here at Pepperdine.

Q: Do you feel an increased responsibility to be leader as the only returning senior in the roster?

A: I definitely feel the pressure to be more of a leader than I have had to be in the past because I am going to be the only returning senior. I have spoken with Coach D many times about this specifically and she said she wants me to be more of a leader not only by example but as a spoken leader too. At first, it was very challenging to me as I am more of a reserved individual, but it has been getting easier as practices go on and I get more comfortable with it. I also feel like I need to step up as more of a leader not only for my returning teammates, but also the new ones, since there will be so many of them.

Q: What are you most excited about for the new players coming in?

A: I am excited to see how each one of them fits into our team's atmosphere and to see each of them make an immediate impact on the court for our team. I know each one of them brings something unique and valuable to this team that will be helpful in the upcoming season. I am also excited to see each of them grow on and off the court as time goes by. I am also excited because it will definitely be helpful in practice to have some extra players because this month in June we have only had about five or six people, so it will definitely help practice run more smoothly with more bodies.

Q: Looking back, what would you label as your biggest accomplishment during your basketball career at Pepperdine?

A: I would say my biggest accomplishment is seeing myself grow year by year and not only improving on my faults but also my best attributes. It is a crazy thing to think back to freshman year when I was a very shy basketball player coming right out of high school, and be able to go through and think about the different goals that I have set over the years and how I have accomplished them. I have become stronger not only physically but also mentally. I have become an overall better person because of this experience that I have been a part of.

Q: If you could give any advice to the team once you leave, especially the new players who will be coming in next year, what would it be?

A: I would tell them to live each moment to the fullest and not take any moment for granted because the time you have in college is limited and it goes very fast. I know 6 a.m. conditioning, running on the court, and the time commitment that college basketball requires, doesn't seem fun in the moment, but you're there with the people you love the most, that you have the most fun times with, and that you call your family. So make the best out of those times that you have with them, whether it be conditioning or just hanging out, because it goes by in the blink of an eye.

Q: What do you think is the hardest part about being a student-athlete?

A: I think most people who aren't familiar with college sports don't realize the time commitment that is put into being a student athlete. In the offseason we are sometimes waking up at 5 a.m. for conditioning or weights and then also have two-hour practices and have class and homework and have to find time to eat in the midst of all of that. And then during season we are traveling and away from class and having to figure out what we missed from other classmates. It is very tiring, but I think the hardest part is having good time management because you have so many things to do with such little time.

Q: Do you have personal goals that you hope to achieve by the end of your senior year at Pepperdine?

A: My goals, like I stated before are to do everything my hardest and to my fullest potential, whether it's on the basketball court or off. I want to get some of my best grades since I've been here at Pepperdine. On the court, I want to have my most successful season out of my four years here.

Men's Basketball Q&A: Kameron Edwards

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After sitting out his second year as a Wave due to injury, Kameron Edwards is now fully recovered. He remains determined and more motivated to get better so he can lead the team to a successful season in 2017-18. He talks about what his recovery process was like, how it feels to be back on the court and his anticipation for the upcoming season.

Kameron  Edwards

Q: You are coming off a tough season, can you talk about what you went through last year?

A: Last year was really tough, not only due to being injured, but also seeing what our team went through as a whole. It was really hard to watch the team struggle, especially knowing I was part of the reason why and knowing there was nothing I could do about it.

Q: What was your initial reaction when you fractured your jaw?

A: When I first fractured my jaw I was really frustrated because I had just recently recovered from a concussion. I also wasn't sure how it would affect our season at the time but overall it was a frustrating experience.

Q: What was the rehabilitation process like?

A: The rehabilitation process was very slow. For six to seven weeks I couldn't eat any solid food or do any physical activity. But when I finally returned to the court I jumped back into things pretty quickly and felt great. I had only lost a few pounds from the broken jaw so lifting again was fine along with everything else.

Q: Was it mentally difficult to stay positive about recovering from such an incident?

A: It wasn't very difficult. I had the mindset that I was going to come back even better than I was before and I feel that's exactly what is happening. I was able to watch a lot of basketball in my time off and I think it really helped me see the game from a different view. More than anything I've been looking forward to next season and knowing it's going to be a good one.

Q: How long did it take before you felt comfortable being back out on the court?

A: After being able to work out again it only took about a week and a half for me to feel comfortable on the court.

Q: How does it feel to be back out there with your teammates?

A: It's a feeling that I really took for granted before the injury. My teammates are like brothers so being able to grind with them every day is a special feeling that I never want to take for granted again.

Q: Do you have personal goals that you hope to achieve for this upcoming season?

A: My biggest personal goal is to be more of a leader for this team. We have a lot of new guys coming in and this will be my third year here so it's partly my job to be a voice and example that the team can follow.

Q: What can fans expect this season?

A: Fans can expect a very athletic team that is going to play hard and compete every time we are on the floor. We will definitely be a top three team in the WCC again and will be pushing to win a conference championship. They can also expect to see some new faces on the team that will be the next generation of Pepperdine greats.

Q: What are your plans for the summer both on and off the court?

A: My plans for the summer include getting to know the freshmen and other new guys and working out with them. I also plan on going home a lot and spending time with friends and family.

Q: What are your summer workouts like?

A: Summer workouts have been pretty intense. Our 6 a.m. conditioning has included us running on the soccer field and running timed miles. We lift three days a week and those have been going well. Also our practices have very productive and competitive.

Q: What are you most excited about for your junior year?

A: I'm most excited to have friends back from abroad and for them to be able to come to games and see our new team. After two years of being at Pepperdine I feel like I know the ropes pretty well so I want to start enjoying the time I have left here with my friends and teammates and be less stressed since I am adjusted to college by now.

Beach Volleyball Q&A: Madalyn Roh

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After helping the Pepperdine women's beach volleyball team attain a runner-up finish at the NCAA Championships, rising junior Madalyn Roh is ready to take on her third year as a Wave. But first, she shares with us her plans for the summer. She also reflects on the past year as well as the year ahead:
Madalyn  Roh

Q: What is your transition like from being in-season to the offseason?

A: Very weird, the change of pace can be frustrating and relaxing at the same time. It is very strange going from training four hours day after day, traveling and competing, to just nothing after such an intense season.

Q: How do you spend your time off?

A: Training mostly on my own and focusing on the little things I can do by myself or with other players around me since coaches cannot coach us over summer.

Q: What is your schedule/plans like for the summer both on and off the court?

A: Most players compete over the weekends in semi-pro type tournaments. We use these competitions to keep our competitive edge and test the waters with new scenarios against people and pairs we don't usually see during the season.

Q: How is training in the summer different than in season?

A: Very laid-back. There isn't an obligation to do anything since our preseason is so long, but we can't help ourselves but continue staying in shape and mostly getting better or recovering from such an intense season.

Q: What kind of things does Coach Nina Matthies want you to work on in the summer?

A: Our coach is great because she understands balance. Yes, I'm sure she has a list of things for all of us to work on, but she understands the intensity and length of our preseason once school starts. Summer is for rest, rejuvenation and keeping your sand legs.

Q: What do you think you learned the most from your sophomore year that you'll take with you as you move forward?

A: I have learned more about the analytical and technical side of the game this year. My partner last year was very seasoned and wise when it came to strategy, so I learned a lot from her, but now I am a more seasoned player so I want to take that strategy sense into next year. Beach volleyball is like a chess match, you must go in with a plan but adjust to your opponent's moves.

Q: What are you goals going into your junior year?

A: Finish what we started last year: win a national championship.

Q: What have you changed about your training routine for this year to make sure that you are continually getting better?

A: Form. Form in how I swing, approach to the ball, serve, etc. Matt Young, our strength and conditioning coach, is very diligent when it comes to form. Last year we really focused on technique and it really carried over into our playing.

Q: What inspires you to play volleyball?

A: My team and our goals. The culture we establish from the very beginning forces us to train and compete for a higher purpose and cause. We aren't just doing these things for ourselves. We are doing it for each other, which draws us closer as we aim to reach that one goal.

Q: Tell us what motto you live your life by?

A: Don't waste your suffering: It's a saying by John Piper, a notable preacher. I link it to the Bible verse Romans 5:3-4: "Not only so, be we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Basically, no matter what you go through, make it count, whether it's bad or good, easy or awful, it's going to build you as a person.

Q: I want to find out what your typical day looks like and how you keep yourself in such good shape ... It's morning, you've just woken up. What's next?

A: On an average day of training -- during the season -- I would take my vitamins and drink a glass of water straight when I wake up and start to get some water brewing for tea. Then, after I brush my hair, put on clothes, and wash my face, it's time to grub. Usually I would have quinoa, sweet potato hash, and some green veggies, sometimes with an egg. On conditioning days, I replace the quinoa with a thin strip of ribeye. After brushing my teeth I'm off to school then I come back for lunch which is some form of meat and veggies at least two hours before practice and then another snack 30 minutes pre-practice.

Q: What's your favorite way to fuel your body first thing in the morning?

A: Ribeye.

Q: How important is breakfast to you?

A: Extremely, if I don't eat breakfast it throws off my whole body and I also don't get the sufficient amount of fuel I need to train.

Q: Do you snack during the day?

A: Oh yes. My snack range from almonds, dates, almond butter with celery and carrots, protein bar, sauerkraut, kimchi, fruit and dark chocolate.

Q: Can you talk to us about food supplements? What do you use? What do you think works well?

A: I love vitamin C, D, A, fish oils, and L-Glutamine. If I'm sick I take oregano, which kills the virus very quickly and the bad bacteria in my system. The basic vitamins I think are great immune boosters, especially for athletes, because we put a lot of pressure on our immune system with practices and stress.

Q: What are huge dietary no-no's?

A: I'm paleo, so I don't eat wheat, dairy or refined sugar. But paleo isn't for everybody. For me, a dietary no-no is eating sugary candies. Sugar is just straight up bad for the nervous system. So I like to stay away from stuff like Sour Patch Kids.

Q: Do you have another hobby that is part of your daily routine?

A: Cooking, I love to cook my own food but also experiment with flavors and ingredients.

Laura Gulbe is a junior on the Pepperdine women's tennis team. She has had a great spring season, earning All-WCC second team honors, clinching a big win against Stanford and helping the Waves to another WCC title. She shares about her experiences growing up, as well as her time at Pepperdine:
Laura  Gulbe

Q: What was it like growing up in Latvia?

A: I lived there until I was about 14 and then I went to school to practice tennis in Spain for three years, so I have an international background. I lived in Austria and trained there too for two years. Growing up in Latvia was unbelievable. It was a lot of fun and it was awesome being around my family. It is such a nice place to grow up in because of all the nature.

Q: When did you start playing tennis?

A: I was almost nine, so that was somewhat of a late start. I really liked it immediately. I wanted to play because my brothers played and I really wanted to beat them.

Q: You have a family of athletes? How has that affected your athletic career?

A: My family on my dad's side is very athletic, but my mom's side isn't at all. The biggest thing is that it is competitive and there are so many things that translate from athletics into real life. It taught me some very valuable lessons at a young age like overcoming adversity.

Q: How did you get in contact with Pepperdine?

A: One of my brother's friends played for the head coach at Pepperdine, and he told me that Per was looking for players. I messaged Per and I really liked him from the first time we talked. After that, I wanted to go to Pepperdine so badly.

Q: Why did you choose Pepperdine?

A: There are so many reasons to choose Pepperdine! Obviously academics was a big reason and I really like how small it is. I came for an official visit, and after I made the decision to go to college, Pepperdine was the only choice.

Q: Have you enjoyed living in Malibu?

A: Oh, it has been amazing and so much fun. The girls from my team are awesome. We are all so different, but we are chasing the same goals. Sometimes we get after each other, but it's for good reasons.

Q: What is your favorite memory of your last three years with the Waves, on or off the court?

A: The last two weeks (before the WCC Championships) have been crazy. We beat Stanford and I got the chance to clinch there. We played BYU and San Diego, and then we played USC and I got to clinch again. I got chills all over my body. It is so special to play for something bigger than yourself. Having the team just creates so much energy. People always ask me how I do sports and school and not get tired, and although it is tiring, you get so much energy from your sport that it transfers over to your schoolwork and it also works the other way around.

 Q: You clinched the Waves' second-ever win over Stanford to beat the Cardinal, how did that moment feel?

A: It felt like relief. Ashley was on the court next to me, and all the girls were there, so we were really in it together. I did not feel that much pressure because I thought that if I didn't have it, then Ashley is going to take it. Obviously, I wanted to get the point first because you never know what can happen. The ball is round, and it can bounce either way, and sometimes you can get a little lucky. It felt so amazing and I was so excited.

Q: How has this year's season been for you?

A: The beginning of the spring season was a little bit hard because during the fall I had some injuries and it wasn't the best personally. I just started looking at it from the perspective of taking every moment and making the best of it. It doesn't matter if you feel bad or something isn't going right, you just take every chance you have. Sometimes you can only give 70%, but at that time it is your 100%. Give it your best and it normally works out. This season the girls have been getting along better and better each week, and our coach has helped us with the small things, which eventually become the big things. We are very fortunate to be here and have such great people around. For example, our academic advisor came to our match yesterday and our athletic director comes to all our matches. That's part of why Pepperdine was the choice.

Q: What are your summer plans?

A: That's a good question. I am staying here for May for the NCAAs and hopefully we are going to win that. I am taking a class in June and the goal is to learn something new.

Jeremy Major is a graduating senior on the men's basketball team. He ended his four-year career setting the school's all-time records in assists and games started. He looks back at his career and time at Pepperdine overall:

Jeremy  Major
Q: Looking back over your college career, what are you most proud of?

A: Looking back on my career I would say that I am most proud of the culture change I had the opportunity to be part of. During the time I was getting recruited it was tough to hear people ask me why I was going to Pepperdine since they had been having losing seasons for the last couple of years. When I arrived here, along with some of my fellow teammates in my class, to join guys like Stacy Davis and Jett Raines, it was the start of trying to do our best to change the culture. By the end of my junior year the culture had changed drastically and it felt good to see the student body as well as the faculty feel the same way.

Q: What was your favorite moment of this past season?

A: I would say my favorite moment of this season would be when we beat BYU. We have done it in the past but for how this season was going due to injuries and a lot of adversity it was great to see all of us come together and beat a good BYU team, who was the only team to beat Gonzaga before they lost in the national championship.

Q: Now that a little time has passed, how does it feel to have set the school records for assists and games started? Has that sunk in?

A:
I never had the expectations of breaking any records when I came here. I just wanted to come out each game, give it my all and live with the results. It is an awesome accomplishment and I thank Coach Wilson for having the trust in me as a freshman to put the ball in my hands. What has sunk in, and that's pretty crazy, is that within the last two years, two records that have lasted for 30 years have been broken back-to-back. I'm glad I can be in the same company as my brother and big fella Stacy Davis.

Q: How do you feel about graduation coming up?


A:
It's a bittersweet feeling. College has been an outstanding time and it's a time of my life that I will remember forever. The relationships, the memories, and the brotherhood I have with my teammates will last forever. At the same time, I am thankful that I am graduating and excited that I will hopefully continue to play professionally.

Q: How about for your team? What do you think you'll take away from playing with this team over the past four years?


A:
I took from this year never take anything for granted, whether it be your health, people in your life, or just being able to do something you love. It's easy to get discouraged but no matter how much adversity comes, be thankful for the opportunities you have and do your best to get the most of any situation.

Q: What have you been doing since the end of the season? How has the time been for you?

A:
I have been enjoying these final weeks with my brothers. It's crazy that in a couple of weeks we probably won't see each other for months. So I have just been enjoying my time with them as well as my friends. But I cannot lie: the non-athlete college life is pretty fun, but maybe just a little too much free time for me!

Track Q&A: Kendall Dunn

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Kendall Dunn, a graduating senior on the women's track team, came into Pepperdine as a transfer during her sophomore year. She looks back on her college career, which recently came to an end:


Kendall  Dunn


Q: You were the best 800 runner this year, and rank #3 all-time in the event at Pepperdine. How does that feel for you?


A: It is an amazing feeling! It's funny because I have been a 400-meter hurdler during my entire career at Pepperdine, but due to a recent back injury my coach and I decided it would be best to train for a less-strenuous event for the second half of the season. That being said, I am very happy to say I am ranked #3 all-time in an event I have only ran a total of three times in my life! I owe it all to (Venus Jewett) Coach V's training and the foundation she has built for our program.


Q: What made you decide to transfer here to Pepperdine?


A: I was originally recruited by a different university on a full-ride track and field scholarship. The school was beautiful and was great academically, but after a few short weeks I continued to find myself a victim to sexual harassment. After weeks of feeling violated and isolated, I decided to forgo the opportunity to run for that particular university. Once I left that school, I decided that safety was going to be a top priority as I searched for a new school to transfer to. Pepperdine was by far one of the best places to ensure I would be living in a safe environment. I also struggled with my faith when I was younger and I wanted to attend a school that would strengthen and rebuild my faith. I am happy to say that Pepperdine has given me that opportunity and I have grown and continue to grow closer to the Lord. The beautiful location and the amazing teammates I am able to train with every day are just added bonuses!


Q: How have you liked your three years here?


A: My three years here have been absolutely unforgettable. Being at Pepperdine has allowed me to strengthen all aspects of my life, whether it be my relationship with God, family, friends, academics, community involvement and so on. I'm so lucky to have been given the opportunity to attend an academically renowned college while also competing at the Division I level in the sport I love. I'm also happy to say that the relationships I have built with friends, teammates and staff members along the way will continue to prevail once I graduate. I would relive these three years over and over again if possible because of all the memories and accomplishments I have made over the course of my college career.


Q: What's it like to look back on your college track career?


A: Overwhelming. This sport has given me a lot of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. I believe every athlete can relate to this. But I don't think I would be where I am today without track because track literally saved my life. You see, when I was 14 years old, I was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma skin cancer. After being diagnosed, I became very sick and had to undergo multiple surgeries, which led to my absence from track during my sophomore year of high school. The one thing that I used as my escape - track -- had vanished and I felt very angry and depressed during that time. So after hearing the doctor say, "If you had waited a couple more months to get your skin checked you would have been dead in a year," it ignited a drive and motivation from within me that I had never felt before. Hearing that you were on the brink of death isn't something you take lightly, so from that moment on I made it my goal to treat every meet, every practice and every step like it was my last. That being said, after looking back on my college career, I am glad to say I did just that. Track has taught me to never take my life for granted and to glorify God by using the ability he has so graciously given me.


Q: What's your favorite memory from your Pepperdine career?


A: Other than Tori's mediocre limbo skills, I would have to say my favorite memory was the conclusion of our 2015-2016 season. We ended the season with so many broken school records and it was exciting to be a part of that experience. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your hard work being paid off by breaking records!


Q: What about in general a favorite memory from your time at Pepperdine?


A: I really enjoyed participating in Songfest during my sophomore year. Songfest was the first time I truly got involved on campus and it allowed me to build new friendships and create memories that will last a lifetime. Once I graduate and look back on my Pepperdine career, Songfest will always be one of the first memories that come to mind.


Q: How has it been running for these coaches?


A: I have absolutely loved running for these coaches. Coach Radnoti has been there for us constantly at practice and keeps our team organized. But I spend most of my hours with Coach V, since she is the sprint/hurdle coach. Coach V has gone above and beyond my expectations as a coach. She genuinely cares about our success as athletes and every workout is carefully crafted to ensure that she is training us to the best of her ability, and there is nothing more loving than that. Besides being a coach, she has been a role model to me and sets an example of how I wish to lead my life once I graduate from Pepperdine. She is an example of a strong, courageous, fun and fabulous woman, and I am going to miss her more than words can describe.


Q: How about running with these teammates?


A: I don't even know where to begin in describing how amazing these teammates are. As a transfer student, I was so worried that I might feel left out upon joining the team. Fortunately, after a few practices and getting to know the girls on and off the track, I immediately felt welcomed. They enjoy sporadic dancing with me at practice, they understand my love for food, and I know I can always count on them when I need a shoulder to lean on. I really don't know what I would have done without these amazing women during my Pepperdine career.


Q: Are you excited for graduation?


A: Absolutely! Not only will my degree signify the completion of college, but it will also be a time to reflect on all of my academic accomplishments and hard work. Better yet, I will also be celebrating the day with close family and friends. It will be such an incredible memory and I am excited to hit this milestone in my life. I owe it all to God and also to those who contributed to paving my path along the way.


Q: Do you have any plans for after graduation?


A: I plan on winning the lottery and crossing the first thing off on my bucket list, which is to travel to the Nyungwe Forest in Africa to play with chimpanzees!

Junior pitcher Kiko Garcia speaks with us about this year's team, and about the seniors that he has played with for the last three years. The Waves take on rival LMU in a three-game WCC series in Malibu starting Friday.

Kiko  Garcia

Q: The Waves are coming off of a couple of tough games against BYU and USCB. What does the team need to do to get back on track and finish the conference season strong?

A: I think we need to get back to the things we were doing earlier in the year that were working for us. Coming from the perspective of a pitcher, we were successful in getting ahead early and attacking hitters, and I think that we just haven't been executing like we should be as of late. Mentally, we are all there. We know what we need to do. We just need to execute.

Q: Each year you have been here, the teams have all had something special about them. What do you think that "something" is for this year's squad?

A:  I think that this year, the team has such great chemistry. There haven't been any fights between the guys. We are all super close, and we are absolutely set up for success.

Q:  As a junior, you have spent your entire career with the seniors of this year. How have they influenced you in your career at Pepperdine?

A:  They have definitely laid the groundwork for all of the success in the past. They are probably my favorite senior group that I have played with at Pepperdine. They really get the team motivated to play each and every day, and are really good role models for the younger guys.

Q: Do you have a favorite memory with any of the seniors?

A: I think it has to be with Chandler Blanchard. As a pitching staff, we come together on road trips and make music with him. A funny example is when we went to Texas this year. We made a little bit of a soundtrack, and it was a lot of fun to make, and we had a lot of laughs doing so.

Q: How do you think the leadership of the seniors has helped your leadership with the freshmen and sophomores?

A: I think that they set a standard of what Pepperdine baseball is all about. There is definitely a high standard of play here, higher than other schools, it feels, and I think that the seniors have done a great job of making that standard known.

Q: As a junior, you only have one more year after this as a Wave, what are you most looking forward to as a senior?

A: Making the most of my career here. It could be the last year of baseball I ever play, so I just want to make the best of it and embrace the memories. I will be leaving all I have on the field for sure.

Q: Do you have plans for your post grad? Are you looking to play ball after school?

A: If it happens, it happens, and it would be great. Realistically, it's super hard to make it all the way, but if the opportunity arises, I will absolutely take it. If not, I want to go to grad school and become a normal person again.

Q: Finally, with the season getting nearer to the end, what can we expect from the Waves coming down the stretch?

A: I think you will see a lot of fight. A lot more than you have seen recently. We are going to compete as hard as we can. Especially this week against LMU. They are one of our biggest rivals, and it is always a really competitive series. We just need to execute and get it done to get a chance to go to the conference tournament, and as far as we can run with it.

Emma Engelland is a freshman on the Pepperdine women's track team. Although she doesn't have a very long running history and it's her first year of running track at the college level, she's had an incredibly strong start and set the school record in the 100-meter hurdles. She reflects on her first season as well as her goals going forward.


Emma  Engelland

Q: So you set a school record in your first season here at Pepperdine! How does having that achievement so early on feel for you?


A: It is such an honor to be able to contribute to the team in a way such as this. It is very rewarding and validating to achieve big goals, but ultimately it is a reminder of how well I am coached and supported.  My coaches have put so much energy and thought into my training and my teammates have kept me accountable and supported me every step of the way. I am extremely proud to be a part of this team and this amazing group of women.


Q: You initially set the record, but it wasn't allowed due to a wind-aided time, before you came back and set it officially. Was it disappointing running fast but not being able to set the record because of the technicality?


A: I remember running across the finish line, and I could tell it was going to be a fast time. I immediately looked up at my coach and she yelled down to me from the stands that I had gotten it, but it was wind-aided. In that moment, I was frustrated, but I knew that I couldn't control the wind. I controlled what I could, and there was no use dwelling on the rest. That race validated the training that I had been doing and made me excited to run again the next week.


Q: How did it feel to set the record that next week after losing out on the technicality the first week? Did it make the achievement more special or better?


A: After running my wind-aided time, I started researching online how much the wind improves times. Of course this was silly and unnecessary, but I was worried I wouldn't be able to PR again the next week. At UCLA a week later, when I crossed the finish line and saw my time, it was a pretty cool feeling. It felt good to claim the record for real just seven days later. Also I have to give a huge shout out to my teammates and coach for being so incredibly supportive at that meet. They made me feel so special and were so proud of me. Nothing's better than being recognized by those you look up to most. They are pretty incredible people.


Q: What is your background with running?


A: My path is different than most in that I actually haven't been running for very long. In middle school I did track for a couple years, but only ran my senior year of high school. I was blessed with great coaching for that year and quickly picked up hurdling, along with a passion for the sport. I am extremely humbled to have the opportunity to run in college. It was never part of the plan, but it has certainly become one of the biggest blessings in my life.


Q: What led you to choose to come to Pepperdine and run for Pepperdine?


A: I was interested in Pepperdine for many of the same reasons as many other students: the study abroad programs, the class and school size, the quality of education and the incredible professors. But I didn't make my decision until I stepped on the campus. I felt so safe and comfortable, and was just struck by its incredible beauty. Because I only ran my senior year, track was almost an after-thought, to be honest. When I applied, I didn't even know I was going to be running track in high school. Coach Rad was great though, and helped me to feel like despite my lack of experience, I could run here.


Q: Has it been an adjustment at all coming here to Pepperdine and running track now in college?


A: I have certainly grown and changed a lot this year, and it would be untruthful to say it has been a walk in the park, but I have absolutely loved my time here so far. I have found the transition to be fairly smooth, no doubt in part because of my team, who acts as my family here on campus. I love my busy schedule and practices and classes so it makes the constant activity worth it.


Q: How have you liked your teammates?


A: I cannot speak highly enough about this group of girls. This team is without a doubt the best group I have ever had the privilege of belonging to. These girls are so passionate about our sport, but also about school and each other. They are the type of girls that ask how you are doing, and stick around for the answer. I can never repay them for all the listening ears and advice and even the snarky comments they so frequently send my way. Truly, I am blown away by the way they live their lives and I am inspired by each one of them.


Q: How have you liked running for these coaches?


A: Both Coach Rad and Coach V have been incredibly supportive, but Coach V is our sprint coach, so I spend much more time with her. She is an amazing leader, teacher, athlete and coach. She is so transparent with us and while her expectations are very high, she never jeopardizes our well-being for our performance. She treats us so well and really takes the time to understand each of her athletes learning styles to be able to best serve them. It is an honor to train under her.


Q: What are your goals going forward?


A: One thing Coach V always reminds me to do is to have fun. I often become so focused that I forget to enjoy the incredible sport I get to do every day. I am working towards being able to relax and enjoy my time here. I would love one last PR at the meet in Long Beach, but then my job is just to heal up and stay in shape over the summer.


Q: Is there anything else you want to say or reflect on as you go into your last meet this season?


A: I would just like to thank the seniors, Izzy, Gabby, Tori, and Kendall. From the bottom of my heart I want to thank you four for what you have done for this team and for instilling the pride you have in it in the underclassmen. You have been incredible leaders and role models, on and off the track. Thank you for showing me what it is to work so hard and have so much fun and love people so well. Each of you are going to make waves in the world and it has been such a privilege to get to walk with you this year. Thank you for entrusting your team to us. I promise we will take good care of it.

Freshman infielder Quincy McAfee of the Pepperdine baseball team tells us about the recent offensive explosion from the Waves, and about his transition from high school to college:
Quincy  McAfee

Q: The Waves are coming off quite the offensive showing with 43 runs in the past 4 games. What has clicked for the Waves in the past couple games?

A: I think just being able to stick to our approach and buying into the approach has really helped. We talk about sitting on fastballs and hitting fastballs, and I think that we have done that really well these past couple of weeks.

Q: How can you, as a team, continue to produce those kinds of numbers at the plate?

A: Just to continue to stick to that approach. Occasionally, we will come upon situations where we try to do too much instead of doing what we know and what we are comfortable with, and in those situations, we just need to trust our coaches and trust our approach.

Q: In the weeks before the offensive explosion, the bats were struggling a little bit. Has the coaching changed at all during the weeks, or has the team mentality changed?

A: I think it is a bit of both. It is really not fun as a hitter to not hit well and not produce runs for the team. So the want and need to produce is definitely up there. But I think that trust in our teammates and the mentality of the team has really improved and produced the runs that we need. Once one person gets going, there is really a ripple effect that takes place, and we just keep going.

Q: Historically, the baseball team has been a really close team. Do you think the family mentality contributes to the success of the team?

A: Yeah, everyone is definitely close. I think that it starts with the seniors. They do a great job of not separating themselves from the team. I also think that we as freshmen have done a good job following in the footsteps of the guys older than us. We all kind of mesh together, and it makes it easy to compete together.

Q: You are a freshman this year. How did the upperclassmen welcome you into the team? Were they pretty easy to get along with as soon as you arrived on campus?

A: Yeah, and it was a little surprising to me, because I had no idea what to expect. The first person I met when I first arrived on campus was Ben Rodriguez. He was extremely welcoming, as was Brandon Caruso, the second teammate I met on campus. The seniors have definitely been embracing us young guys and showing us the ropes.

Q: Coming to California all they way from Texas is a pretty big change. How has that transition been from high school to college?

A: Academically, it has definitely been a greater challenge. Being away from everyone, including our families, has been tough, but I think that all the guys on the team have made the transition a lot easier. They invite us all over to their apartments and houses, and make a point of hanging out with us. It's been really cool.

Q: Along that line, you moved out here with a familiar face. Your high school teammate, Brandt Belk, is also here playing baseball at Pepperdine. What was that like back at home? Did you guys make the decision together? Or did things just kind of work out?

A: Things just kind of worked out that way. Initially, he was going to Rice, and I was coming here. His going to Rice fell through, and there was always the option of coming out to Pepperdine. He ended up coming, and it was awesome being able to go to school with my best friend. Not only did we go out of state and into the same new state, but we also came to the same school. It definitely made the transition easier. It made it easier to go out and meet people and make friends.

Q: You came in and started playing right away. Was the move from high school baseball to college baseball a difficult one? Or did you feel real comfortable as soon as you stepped in?

A: It was a little difficult. I actually got a chance to play in the North Woods League, a college summer ball league, over summer. That experience made it a lot easier coming in to Pepperdine. Playing in the North Woods was really difficult at first. The game was faster, and the guys were bigger and stronger. I felt that when I first came out here, the first month or two of baseball really helped the transition.

Q: Finally, as we are in the middle of conference season now, what can we expect from the Waves the rest of the season?

A: Hopefully, a lot more games like the past couple weeks. Games where we score a lot of runs, and our pitchers continue to dominate on the mound.

Treet Allison is a freshman on the men's track team but his youthful status hasn't stopped him from already setting a few school records (400, 800 and 1,500 meters) while determinedly looking toward the future and working hard to meet his goals. He shares how his time at Pepperdine has been so far and what has helped him to transition and do well:

Treet  Allison

Q: So you've come in and already set some records as a freshman! How does that feel?

A: It feels great to be able to come in freshman year and be able to compete with other guys that are working hard. The progress is showing and it makes me feel confident about what the future holds.

Q: Did you think you would come into your freshman year starting off so well or has it been kind of a surprise for you?

A: Honestly this season has been a complete surprise to me so far. You always want to put in your best work and trust the system, and this time the training has really paid off quickly in the season. Now it's just time to see where we can go from here.

Q: What have you focused on to help you to do so well?

A: I have really been focused on working hard during practice with my middle distance workout group. Even when our bodies and minds are feeling done, everyone helps each other focus on getting through. When it comes to racing I continue to try to convince myself that I can stick with the faster guys and try to see how far my body can hurt before it quits.

Q: Has the transition been different or difficult at all, running track in college?

A: The transition to college running was a big jump for me last semester in cross country, when I came into a completely different state, altitude/terrain and atmosphere of living on my own. When I came back from winter break I had a better idea of what I was in for and so track season's training started up much more smoothly.

Q: What are your goals or what are you focusing on as you move forward?

A: For this season I really want to start getting my 1,500 meter time further down to a more regionally competitive time so that in the future I will be able to represent Pepperdine at the higher end of competition. 

Q: So your older brother also was a good runner for Pepperdine. Is running something your family all enjoys?

A: Yeah, my brother Seth Allison was a runner for Pepperdine from 2007-2011 and was basically the trend-setter for running in my family. Once he started and excelled in it, it caught on to the next three brothers and we picked it up and "ran" with it.

Q: So what is your background with running?

A:  My background of running started off with being dragged to every track and cross country meet my brothers competed in when I was younger. I remember doing a 10-11 mile race with my dad when I was around five and from then on I've had a particular taste for distance racing. I was inspired by my older brothers' success and dedication to becoming better each mile through pushing themselves to the limit.

Q: What do you like about the coaches at Pepperdine and your team?

A: I absolutely love Coach Rad, he's always pushing and expecting more of us each day. It doesn't matter if you're having a good day or a bad day, he understands that performing, no matter what the world is throwing at you, is part of what makes people successful. He's understanding to a very personal level, but also a driving force to get things done. I also love my team. We are all really close and share a brotherhood together. We are each in each other's lives to help get through rough times and to help push each other when we can't do it ourselves.

Freshman catcher Joe Caparis is having a big week, getting a walk-off single to lift the Waves over Gonzaga in Sunday's finale to win the series, and then hitting his first career home run against CSUN on Tuesday. He speaks about the nerves coming in as a freshman, as well becoming comfortable with his teammates:

Joe  Caparis

Q: The Waves just came off of a big series win against Gonzaga and another big win against CSUN. How do you feel these past two wins have been for the confidence of the team?

A: I think that going into the rest of our conference series, having one of those Tuesday games where we can explode on offense and show what we can do is huge for our confidence. We know that we can hit like that all the time, so it was nice to actually do it.

Q: You played a huge part in the win in the last game of the series against Gonzaga, getting the walk-off single to win the game. What did it feel like getting that game-winning hit?

A: I wanted to hit the ball hard. I knew that the guys behind me in the rest of the lineup would get it done, so I wasn't worried that we weren't going to do it. It honestly was really surprising that it was me to do it, knowing that I had been struggling that game at the plate. It was a really awesome feeling to get the win for the team.

Q: What have the nerves been like as a freshman coming in and playing as much as you have?

A: The first six or seven games that I played, my nerves were off the charts. Everything was all over the place. The pace of the game was so much faster than in high school. I couldn't keep up with everything going on in the game. But the past week and a half, two weeks or so, it has been starting to fall in place, both offensively and behind the plate. I think that getting the opportunity to get in the game and really show what you can do is really nice, because you never know how many games you are going to get to play.

Q: You mentioned that the nerves were off the charts. How have you been able to settle down and really get into a rhythm?

A: Knowing that I have already failed. I didn't do well at all for a couple games, and I heard about it from the coaches. I know that I am in there for a reason, and I wasn't going to lose this opportunity to go out and play the game I love, and play as well as I can.

Q: Along that point, did you expect to come in as a freshman and start the majority of games behind the plate? How have you become so comfortable back there?

A: Coming in as a freshman, I knew about Aaron (Barnett) and Austin (Bernard) and that they were both really experienced, and both coming off of great seasons last year. I just wanted to come in and compete. I didn't know what was going to happen, and I didn't expect what has happened. I kind of had it in the back of my head that they were going to get the majority of the playing time, so I wanted to use this year as a learning year and learn as much as I could from those guys, and be ready for when my opportunity did arise.

Q: Being a catcher, you have the unique perspective of working with both the position players and the pitchers, including the coaches. How does that help you know what is going on in the minds of the players and coaches when they make decisions?

A: When it comes to the pitchers, I think that it is extremely important to know each one of them personally. Knowing who they are, how they work and how they handle their struggles. A lot of it is also how I can help them through those struggles, whether it is keeping their eyes focused on the task at hand, or getting them through a tough inning. With the position players, we know that we are all playing a part behind our pitcher, and need to make plays behind them and for them, so we can give ourselves a chance to score some runs.

Q: How has the transition been from high school to college, both athletically, and academically?

A: It has been tough going from the academics in high school to the academics in college. Especially the time commitment. The average day in college is a lot more hectic, especially being a student-athlete. Overall you really need to be efficient to get the things done that you need to every day.

Q: What have you been able to learn from the upperclassmen so far this season? Both about baseball and about college life in general?

A: I have learned to work hard and get everything done, but also, more importantly, to enjoy the time here. We are out there with the guys more than with our own families during the year, so it is extremely important to become comfortable with each other and understand that we are all in this as a team.

Patricia Wong, a sophomore on the Pepperdine women's golf team, had a strong freshman year, placing third on the team in scoring average and earning All-WCC first team honors. Now as a sophomore, she's still one of the strong players on the team. She reflects on her freshman year, shares what she's learned, and what her goals are moving forward:
Patricia  Wong

Q: Having now been through one postseason run as a freshman, how do you think that experience will help this time around?

A: The more experience, the better! Having played WCCs and NCAA Regionals my freshman year gave me so much excitement and motivation for this year's WCCs and NCAA Regionals. It's important to stay in the moment and to reminisce the good shots from last year but also to look at the goal that's right in front. So moving forward, we want to make it further than Regionals. 

Q: Does it feel differently playing golf as a sophomore now as opposed to your freshman year?

A: I definitely feel like my freshman year, I had a lot of adjusting to do. Now as a sophomore, I know what it's like to be a full-time student and a full-time athlete and I don't need to adjust anymore. I just have to keep grinding and have fun out there. 

Q: What do you think you learned the most from your freshman year that you'll take with you as you move forward?

A: I think as a freshman, I played free and fearless. I had nothing to lose. It was just the beginning of my college career. And now that I'm a sophomore, I can learn from that mentality and trust myself to play fearlessly. 

Q: So you just got back from a match-play tournament, the SDSU March Mayhem, which is a different format than you typically play. What did you think about that? 

A: Instead of going against a whole field of players, it's just you and one other opponent, battling it out until the very last hole. It was intense and thrilling at the same time. I loved it!

Q: You won three of your four matches, so you were the Waves' most successful individual there. How does that feel?

A: I don't have much experience with match play, so for me to go out there and win three of my four matches, I learned a lot and it really showed me a different perspective of the game. But I definitely think the most special part of it was having my parents, family, friends and teammates out there watching and supporting me. 

Q: What are you focusing on for this season?

A: I am definitely focusing on having a positive attitude and mindset while I play and minimizing my mistakes on the course. I want to help the team as much as I can. At the same time, I want to enjoy every last bit of this season. It's sad to think I only have two years left!